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What Happens if You Don’t Report a Car Accident?

What Happens if you don't Report an Accident

Wondering whether you need to file a report after a car accident and what happens if you don’t report a car accident? We’ve got answers to those questions.

Reporting a car accident is just one of the many issues that arise after one happens. At Gomez Trial Attorneys, we have been helping car accident victims recover compensation for over 15 years. To learn more, view some of our notable case results or contact us for a free case evaluation.

Regarding car accidents, here are answers to some of the most common questions our experienced California car accident attorneys get about reporting them.

Do You Have To Report a Car Accident?

After a car accident in California, you usually need to report the accident to the police, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, and your car insurance company. There are some limited cases where reporting is not required.

If the accident resulted in injuries or death, you must report it to the California Highway Patrol or local police department as well as the DMV. If the accident involved property damage of more than $1,000, you must report it to the DMV. Use the current version of Form SR-1, available on the California DMV website.

Insurance policies dictate when an accident must be reported to them. Policies almost always require that you report accidents to them, even if you do not intend to file a claim.

What Happens if You Don’t Report a Car Accident?

If you don’t report a car accident, you could face civil and criminal fines, have your driver’s license suspended, and face higher insurance rates. The exact penalties will depend on the situation. Additionally, you could undercut any personal injury claim for compensation that you have based on the accident.

How Long Do You Have To Report an Accident in California?

Under California Vehicle Code § 20008, you must report an accident to the California Highway Patrol or local police department within 24 hours if the accident results in injuries or death to anyone involved. You must also report the accident to the DMV within 10 days of the accident if reporting is required (injury, death, or property damages over $1,000). Your insurance policy will state how long you have to report the accident to the company.

Additionally, under California Vehicle Code § 20003, you are required to render “reasonable assistance,” to anyone injured before leaving the scene. In a case involving serious injuries, this is usually done by calling 9-1-1, which usually results in police being sent to the scene to write a report.

When Should You Report a Car Accident?

It is usually in your best interest to report the accident to law enforcement immediately while at the scene. This allows officers to come out, assess the scene, write a report, and document the accident. The police report can be an important component of building a strong personal injury case.

Do You Have To Call the Police After a Minor Car Accident in California?

If the accident does not involve injuries, death, or property damage over $1,000, you are not required to report it to the police. Very few accidents fall into this category. If the cars were moving at the time of the accident, what seems like a minor “fender-bender” is often over $1,000 in damage to vehicles.

Even when not required, it is usually best to report the accident to establish a record of what occurred. In minor car accidents, delayed onset injuries such as whiplash are common, so while you may not think you “need” evidence of what occurred, it is better to have it and not need it than the other way around.

How Long Do You Have To Report a Hit-and-Run in California?

California hit-and-run accidents are subject to the same accident reporting rules discussed above. Reporting is particularly important in a hit-and-run because it is the only way law enforcement can find the driver who fled the scene. It also helps establish a record for pursuing an uninsured motorist claim or other compensation claims.

Need a California Car Accident Lawyer? Get Gomez.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, a California car accident attorney can help you evaluate your options and ensure that you obtain the full compensation you deserve.

Gomez Trial Attorneys has frequently been recognized as top personal injury lawyers. Contact us here or at 833-GET-GOMEZ for a free case evaluation.

John Gomez
John Gomez founded the firm alone in 2005. Today, John acts as President and Lead Trial Attorney. He has been voted by his peers as a top ten San Diego litigator in three separate fields: Personal Injury, Insurance and Corporate Litigation. Since 2000, he has recovered over $800 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients with more than 160 separate recoveries of one million dollars or more. A prolific trial lawyer, John has tried to jury verdict more than 60 separate cases.

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